Two airlines are in discussion with the Iqaluit Humane Society to find a way to continue flying unwanted dogs to Ottawa and adoptive homes in the south.
The humane society has a partnership with a shelter in Gatineau, Que., to take dogs when the Iqaluit shelter becomes overcrowded.
Only two airlines have scheduled flights between Iqaluit and Ottawa: Canadian North and First Air.
For the past four years Canadian North has been sponsoring the shelter by flying dogs south, free of charge. But upcoming changes to airline's flight schedule in January means that arrangement will no longer work out.
As of Jan. 11, Canadian North's southbound flight arrives in Ottawa at 8:25 p.m.
"What it means for the dogs is that they've got no one there at the cargo office to pick them up. They're not open by the time the flight gets in, it gets in too late," said Iqaluit Humane Society president Janelle Kennedy.
"It's not that they wouldn't still send the dogs or that they wouldn't have the space."
The Iqaluit Humane Society got the news in an email sent by Canadian north Dec. 9.
"It was a great run to be able to keep our daytime flight until the end of the year, however, I just received word that as of January 11, 2016, we are back to our evening flight from Iqaluit to Ottawa. I hope that 'the other airline' will be able to assist with transport of the pets in 2016," wrote Gail Quinn, Canadian North's manager of sponsorship's and events.
Canadian North has a codeshare agreement with First Air, meaning a customer booking a ticket with one airline may end up flying with the other, depending on the time of the flight. The agreement is under review by the Canadian Competition Bureau.
The shelter in Iqaluit typically takes in 25 dogs a month.
"When you run out of space, you have to make decisions," Kennedy said.
"We've been priding ourselves as being a no-kill shelter and we really don't want to have to go that route."
Shipping costs can be expensive – a 100 pound dog could cost as much as $500 to transport, said Kennedy.
"If we have to pay cargo bills, we'd never afford it. It's extremely expensive as everybody knows."
Deal in the works
When CBC contacted Canadian North, it said it had been in discussions with the shelter to figure out a work-around to ensure the program would continue to run.
"We're happy to present an offer to the Iqaluit Humane Society and we hope we can keep working together with them. We're proud to support this," said Canadian North spokesperson Kelly Lewis.
Lewis wouldn't get into specifics of how the arrangement would work.
"We've provided all the details to them on this and we'll certainly be waiting hearing back from them on it."
The shelter's president said it is reviewing the offer, as well as offers from First Air to send dogs to Ottawa.
"We know it's a big commitment but it's life or death for these animals," Kennedy said.
Story and photos: http://www.cbc.ca